Revealing My Collection

Discussion in 'European & Other Pocket Watches' started by DaveyG, Sep 25, 2019.

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  1. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    I have not, for several years now, been a regular contributor to the Forum and whilst those who have known of me for a while may understand the reasons for that it is not something that I propose to dwell on. I have, however, kept a sort of watching brief ands made small inputs where and when I thought it might be useful.

    I have recently started to take a new look at my collection of watches, having recently recovered them from the bank, with a view to updating the information that was collated with each watch at the time they were added to the collection. In a lot of cases that is now up to a couple of decades ago and I am aware of the fact that the spread and depth of knowledge about early makers etc is much greater these days, in no small part due to the efforts expended in these forums. I had one of those light bulb moments, as I was considering how to tackle my project, when it dawned upon me that there are folks here who are better at almost every research methodology than I am and in many cases have better resources to hand, to whit, more books, more contacts and simply more knowledge. So, why don't I just post the watches here, one by one, until everyone is thoroughly fed up of me at least. I will lay before you the information that I have and a few photographs and see what happens.

    So, with your indulgence that is what I propose to do, and start right now with Watch No 1 in the collection:

    SILVER PAIR CASED CYLINDER ESCAPEMENT - JOHN HOLMES, LONDON

    Full Plate English Cylinder Escapement


    Case Maker's Mark T.P


    Case Maker: Thomas Pepper

    Staining Lane

    London

    Mentioned in the 1773 Working Casemakers Report


    or: Thomas Perry,

    Shoe Lane,

    London


    Case: Silver pair case. Inner and outer with same marks.


    Hallmarks: Lion Passant

    Crowned Leopard's Head - London

    R 1772/73


    The back of the inner case is engraved with the name: R West
    There is a long thin pendant with stirrup bow. The hinges and button are good.


    Movement:

    Dust cover with raised portion over balance cock and window for register of Tompion style regulator with adjuster and winding square visible. The dust cover is engraved: Jn Holmes, Strand, London 6175. Removing the dust cover reveals a fusee driven, full plate watch of standard design and construction - but very finely made. The cock is beautifully pierced with acanthus leaf decoration with 'grotesque’ at the junction with the fairly broad foot. The acanthus leaf pattern extends to the foot which is held in place with a large, blued screw. There is a diamond end stone. The plate surrounding the silvered regulator index is also engraved and has the 'pointing finger' indicator. The Barrel bridge is engraved: John Holmes, Strand, London. 617. the 5 is obscured by minor damage. There are square pillars and fusee, without maintaining power. The barrel has worm gear mainspring set up. The dial has an inner chapter of roman numerals with minutes marked in intervals of 5 around the outside. The are beetle and poker (gold?) hands. There is a bull’s eye glass.

    The Maker:

    John Holmes is recorded in Baillie’s as working from 1761 to 1815 although other references indicate that he died in Cumbria in 1802.

    John Holmes has the following listing in Britten:

    '156 Strand, near Somerset House. He seems to have been one among the leading mechanicians, and when a turret clock at Greenwich Hospital was destroyed by fire in 1779 was given the order for a new one, in connection with the design of which he sought the advice of Smeaton and Ludlam; a gold watch by him is in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; it belonged to William Pitt and bears the Pitt crest, a heron holding an anchor in its right claw; the Wetherfield collection contained two mahogany long case clocks of his manufacture, one a particularly choice example of Chippendale dating from about 1770, and another about 20 years later; he was one of the experts appointed by the select committee of the House of Commons in 1791 to report on Mudge's timekeeper. George Yonge succeeded him in 1798'


    Rees' Cyclopedia of Clocks, Watches & Chronographs (PP29-30) for more information.


    Apprenticed to Henry Hindley in York, Holmes was a cousin of the renowned civil engineer John Smeaton and was himself elected to the Society of Civil Engineers in 1772. The letters from Ludlam and Smeaton are visible on Google Books and offer advice in great detail.

    John Holmes 16.JPG John Holmes 9.JPG John Holmes 10.JPG John Holmes 11.JPG John Holmes 18 .JPG
     
  2. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Dave,

    I for one look forward to your more active participation and thank-you for starting this thread. Excellent description and photographs - I hope this is the first of many that we can look forward to.

    John
     
  3. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dave,

    A fine watch with connections to some very eminent men of their time. A lovely example of a 1770s enamel dial, with very few blemishes; a shame that the original hands have been replaced, but then, hands have always suffered from clumsy fingers! Am I right in thinking that this has had its original Graham type banking replaced with pins in the edge of the cock table?

    I guess this is as close as you care to get to a verge!

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  4. Benjamin E.

    Benjamin E. Registered User
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    I don't believe so, at least judging by the pictures. Such watches will have part of the outer edge of the cock cut away to expose the perimeter of the balance and a pin. Here, the whole balance is covered.
     
  5. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Benjamin,

    I agree, that's how it was usually done, but look at the two pins in the edges of the table:

    John Holmes 10 edited.jpg

    Much less effort to fit, and it avoids defacing the cock.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  6. John Matthews

    John Matthews Registered User
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    Dave

    I checked the case maker's mark [T·P in a rectangular cartouche] both in Priestley's publications and Grimwald. Priestley's 1994 Supplement publication has Thomas Pepper having registered this mark on 23 Feb 1767 with the Staining Lane address, moving to Lilly Port lane 27 June 1770. Interestingly he is recorded as registering a second incuse mark TP on 16 April 1772. I say 'interestingly' because the date letter R would have been used from 29 May 1772 to 28 May 1773. He does not list Thomas Perry. The Addendum additions, as published in the 2000 Supplement, do not have a listing for Perry. It does record Thomas Peirce of Bristol registering the mark T·P, but that pre-dates the Pepper registrations. These registrations are so recorded in Priestley's 2018 publication with no reference, that I can find, to Thomas Perry.

    Grimwald lists the 1767 registration mark by Pepper [ref 2874] together with a small illustration of the mark. I eventually found a reference to a mark for Thomas Perry of Shoe Lane - TP incuse with a star above, registered on 14 November 1765. He is thought, by Grimwald to have been a hiltmaker.

    Grimwald has the following for Thomas Pepper ...

    No record for apprenticeship or freedom. First mark entered as a smallworker, 23 February 1767, Address Staining Lane. Moved to Lilly Pot lane, 27 June 1770. Second mark (incuse), 16 April 1772. Appears as a watch casemaker, Lilly Pop Lane in the Parliamentary Report List of 1773.

    It would appear that the mark is for Thomas Pepper and it is an exact match. However, by the time the case was assayed, he had entered his later, incuse, mark. Pepper had used his earlier punch when the case was sent for assay, possibly by mistake, but I guess the case was stamped before the incuse mark was registered but it was not assayed until the new date letter came into operation. Perhaps it was held back to wait for the new registration year - a bit like the spike in the purchase of new cars in days of old ;).

    John
     
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  7. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    John, thank you for the help with the case maker. I have it in my 'margin notes' that the source of the Thomas Perry possibility came from David Penney's website and another Holmes watch, a little later than the subject here bearing the Thomas Perry mark that you describe above. As my source was solely Priestley in the original guise, and I felt that to be inconclusive I had noted Perry as a possibility.

    Indeed Graham, there are pins, or more correctly one pin as one has fallen out or is at least not present, in the balance cock. I was unsure as to whether this would have been the original form or a later modification as the watch was made some considerable time after the development of the escapement by Graham. Perhaps you could explain the original form of banking utilised in the 'horizontal' escapement and when that might have changed?
     
  8. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dave,

    George Graham's original design used a radial pin in the cylinder itself to bank on a peg in the potence throat:

    DSCF3369.JPG

    This example is from a 1788 centre seconds cylinder watch, alas not by George, but nevertheless made to a very high standard, with his type of centre seconds configuration, with two pinions on the escape wheel arbor. What is slightly odd is that there are signs that there were, at some point, radial pins fitted in the balance rim, so perhaps the wheel isn't original, because the cock table certainly hasn't been vandalised as Benjamin describes. There are no pins in the edge of the table either.

    I can't recall seeing this type of banking on any later English cylinders.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
  9. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Thank you Graham. There is certainly no evidence of there ever having been a pin in the cylinder, which does look remarkably crisp I have to say, so maybe a replacement. There is, of course, a pin in the balance rim. I still shouldn't rule this banking system out as being original though should I? I have never dismantled this watch, it was purchased well before I had any horological hand skills whatsoever (some would say 'what has changed' ;) ). I did have it serviced when I first bought it and it ran very well, keeping good time within a minute or two in 24hrs. As it has been tucked away for several years now I don't intend to wind it in the near future.

    So, things learned already from this exercise, thanks to all. More to follow after a suitable period of grace. Keep a keen eye out for the verges Graham.
     
  10. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Dave,

    Steel cylinders certainly did wear, sometimes to an alarming degree whilst still able to run after a fashion. The escape wheels were often moved up or down their arbors to engage with an unworn part of the cylinder, (easy to do when the collet was only friction fitted), and you can often see separate distinct wear tracks on the cylinder as a consequence.

    My example of 1788 may well be a late hangover of the Graham style, but I don't think the way that the pins have been planted in yours looks original, especially since they aren't quite symmetrical. I suspect that the plain cylinder and the pins are a later modification; a look in the potence throat would confirm it.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  11. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    A job for another day maybe. I have enough going on right now - and my timing machine seems to have developed a mind of its own. Microphone I think.

    However, many thanks once again Graham.

    Dave
     
  12. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Hi Dave- I was at a clock & watch mart yesturday, and I bought a Brockbanks movement, but I don´t want to go on to much about it here, I will put it on a new thread. I thought though you and others would like to see the banking pins on this balance, it would appear they had problems too. Looking forward to the rest of this thread Dave. Best Wishes, Allan.

    IMG_7573 (2).JPG IMG_7573.JPG
     
  13. DaveyG

    DaveyG Registered User

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    Hi Allan, That looks very strange and I don't understand quite how pins in that position will work to limit the travel of the balance. Is there a pin in the centre of the under side of the balance cock? I would suspect that the hairspring has been shortened, is incorrectly pinned or the collet needs to be rotated and that those two pins on the balance should be positioned centrally on an extended line through the balance foot screw and the jewel hole. I don't recall seeing a balance with two pins inserted before.

    Dave
     
  14. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    Dave-I have put the Brockbanks on a new thread- you should able to see now-Allan.
     

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